So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~Romans 10:17 A friend’s drawl thickens when he calls family in Texas. Another friend, far from her native Taiwan, finds a balm for homesickness in speaking mandarin with newfound friends. This is our heritage: our mother tongue sings our homecoming. What […]
The psychologist Erik Erikson writes of how in the first stage of our development the primary concern is basic trust versus basic mistrust. For infants, the outer predictability of consistent patterns of care becomes an inner certainty. Trust births hope. This inner certainty runs deeper than memory. It lives in spirit, flesh and bone. And
Musicians have a tendency to pick apart songs. You could say we dissect them but that is too clinical a word – as if we wait until it’s dead to slice up its cadaver. The attitude carried in the word “dissecting” is a sure way to kill a song and leave us cold. Defending the
From my May 12, 2019 Music Corner bulletin column Today’s Psalm 100:1-2 We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before God with joyful song. The first thing I notice is that the proclamation that “we are his people” is
Trees are constantly growing. When a limb is cut off the tree grows around the cut to seal the wound against disease. In nature, healing is an extension of the capacity for generativity or growth. Another angle: The psychologist D.W. Winnicott writes that when children play they are becoming who they are. Like a plant
Slang for therapist, shrink is an intriguing word; rather it is a fascinating image. One story goes that it arose from phrenology, the study of head size and shape and its correlation to personality. You go to a shrink to have your head examined and undesirable qualities shrunk. That’s one way the image plays out.
Singing into a microphone or playing in front of a congregation can be intimidating. From personal experience and many conversations with music ministers about the mental and spiritual challenges of serving have come some insights that, I think, apply readily to any situation where we put ourselves out there to serve God and neighbor. To
The arts, including music, are the soul’s languages. Music connects with us (and connects us) because it speaks the soul’s language, whose very syntax embodies its source. In melody and harmony we find image and incarnation of the soul. Melody is the story line of a song. The melodic line is a thread that holds the song
In Mark 9:36 Jesus tells the disciples the one who leads must be “the servant of all.” An accompanist leads as a servant of all. Artistry is ever in service of supporting and augmenting the song of the assembled faithful. Instilling confidence is foremost. Listening and responding is constant. When those around them falter, a
When you a sing near a cello, it vibrates. If you sing the pitch of one of its strings, it will vibrate sympathetically, continuing even after you stop singing. Like us, the cello was made to sing. And when a skilled cellist plays from the heart, a vibration is set up sympathetic hearts attuned to
Mark 1:15 says “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Do you see it there before you? It takes eyes of faith to see the kingdom of God that is at hand. You’ve heard “seeing is believing.” It’s practically the Apostle Thomas’ motto.
We celebrate that God was born into the world–that God took human form. So, what does this mean? This deceptively simple question has profound implications. Maybe the incarnation is like performing a piece of music. To perform a piece is to make way for it to live right here, right now, in the fingers, in
Why does Music have such an effect on us? Where does it come from? In the beginning, there was rhythm. In our mother’s womb we hear the beating of her heart and the rhythm of her breath. We feel the stillness and movement and the sleeping and waking of her days. We are born into
The spaces we dwell in have a powerful effect on us. Moving from our parking lot toward the church we enter into community. The doors open to welcome us. The narthex is a passage into fellowship and a prelude to prayer. Anticipation is in the very air held within those walls. Grasping the handles of
What if we are so much of creation that the gift of free will, given in love, had consequences for all creation? “…for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption
Of course we’re not talking literally “up.” That would lead to all sorts of absurdities. We’re speaking metaphorically, which is to say that we’re speaking psychologically. So how do we get at the meaning of the metaphor? – by playing with it until we begin to see through it as through a lens and by
“Perhaps ideas are the single most precious miracle in human existence. For ideas determine our goals of action, our styles of art, our values of character, our religious practices and even our ways of loving.” -James Hillman, Kinds of Power p. 16 The experience of a taking in a transformative idea Coming across an idea
While we may imagine memory as the collection and recall of facts, compared with technologies we create to help us remember facts, we are actually quite poor at factual recall. We forget far more than we remember and often what we remember and how we remember it is considered suspect. We have learned to create
One of the great benefits of communal worship is that witnessing the expressions of faith of our brothers and sisters strengthens our own faith. When you come forward to serve in music ministry you give a visible and audible testimony of your faith and that testimony awakens and strengthens the faith of all who worship
In abstracting we imagine ourselves as outside of nature looking in and Forgetting the “as” we are left alienated and homeless. In using a tool, the tool becomes an extension of our body. In use, the tool fades in favor of the task at hand. Yet we can readily stop and notice the tool itself.
Consider the character of spiritual experience and what it has in common with the experience of music. Spiritual experiences often include a sense of immersion in the divine. Because we are likewise immersed in sound, music is the best art for evoking the divine. Spiritual experience is deeply emotional. The experience of emotions is also
At the core of being a musician is the deep desire to experience and express what goes beyond words. When someone tells of a spiritual experience, they can’t help but relive it in the telling. The same is true for musical expression: the musician lives what is being expressed. This is part of what makes
There are moments in a musician’s life – defining performances that touch so deeply that they effect a fundamental shift in their humanity – an awakening at the core of their vocations as musicians that forever alters their path. I witnessed last night just such a milestone that will forever remain as a archetypal marker